Friday 24 May 2019

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Govt objects to speaker appearing in court

 

The speaker engaging lawyers to defend his own judgement in the higher court has become a matter of interest in Goa, as the state law minister feels that no court can appear before the higher court when his judgement is being challenged there.

Goa's law minister Dr Kashinath Jalmi has objected to speaker Tomazinho Cardoz engaging former advocate general and his lawyer son to plead his case, when the speaker's disqualification order was challenged before the high court.

Perhaps this could be the first case in the country where the speaker, having all powers of the judicial authority, has engaged his own lawyers to defend his own judgement in the high court when it has gone into appeal.

Jalmi has reportedly put a remark in the file whether it is necessary for the speaker to defend his own judgement before the high court, referring it back to his department, asking for re-examination. The law minister has expressed surprise over it since the speaker acts in the capacity of a trial court when he delivers the judgement.

It is the same famous case of the speaker disqualifying chief minister Dr Wilfred de Souza and his nine colleagues, after they broke away from the then ruling Congress party, to form a coalition government along with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak party and the Bharatiya Janata party, two months ago.

Jalmi, holding the law portfolio in the present government, belongs to the MGP and was the state opposition leader. The speaker's order was initially stayed by the court and then quashed, dismissing the grounds on which Cardoz, elected as the Congress MLA, disqualified them.

Though de Souza group comprised of more than one third of the total strength of the Congress legislators, he had contended that the party organisation had not simultaneously split, thereby attracting disqualification.

Former advocate general Vijay Nadkarni, who had represented former chief minister Pratapsing Rane before the speaker, later represented the speaker when his order was challenged before the high court by de Souza and others.

Nadkarni and his lawyer son Yogesh have now submitted a bill of over Rs 1.25 lakh for nine appearances which, feels the law minister, is the exorbitant amount they have claimed. Enquiries revealed that no lawyer could be paid more than Rs 600 per hearing by the government, contrary to which the former AG has claimed around Rs 14,000 per hearing.

Overruling the law department's opinion that the bills have to be paid, disclose sources in the department, that Jalmi has now told his officials to also examine the aspect of whether the speaker could engage lawyers of his own choice, without prior approval of the government.      






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